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Winter and the novice driver #iatraffic

October 18, 2013

AMES, Iowa – Oct. 18, 2013 –  To highlight National Teen Driver Safety Week, Oct. 20-26, the Iowa Department of Transportation echoes the commemoration’s theme of “It Takes Two: Shared Expectations for Teens and Parents for Driving.”

This time of year many of us are preparing our vehicles for winter driving. Preparing our younger drivers should also be included in the winter plan. Getting behind the wheel for the first time on a wintery day can be nerve-wracking, even for an otherwise “invincible” teenager. Learning to drive can be scary for the student and driving instructor, typically a parent or other adult. Novice drivers need additional instruction on the safest methods of driving on snow and ice.

Some tips for those assisting a novice driver include:

  • Make a smart choice: A novice driver's first on-the-road experience with winter weather driving should not be during a major storm. Practice while conditions are moderate and delay on-the-road driving until conditions are less severe.
  • Take gradual steps: Start out having the teen practice driving on slippery roads in daylight. Once the driver has gained sufficient experience driving during the daylight hours, gradually give them experience driving on slippery roads at night, when factors like black ice or whiteout conditions could be a factor.
  • Test the waters (frozen water that is): Allow the young driver to practice in a vacant, snow- or ice-covered parking lot where slow-speed maneuvers can be mastered with little risk to the vehicle and its passengers. Practice braking and steering in skidding situations.
  • Give ‘em some room: Explain to the young driver the importance of maintaining adequate space between vehicles, demonstrating in a safe location the difference in stopping distances on dry pavement and slick roads.
  • See and be seen: Before starting out on the road, make sure the vehicle’s windows, headlights and taillights are cleared of ice and snow.
  • Check it out: Winter weather puts your vehicle’s mechanical systems and performance to the test. Make sure the vehicle the novice driver operates is in top working order, including all mechanical systems, including brakes and the vehicle’s tires.
  • Be prepared: Always be prepared when traveling during the winter by carrying a winter survival kit in the vehicle. View the Iowa DOT’s winter preparedness video on YouTube with your novice driver at http://www.youtube.com/iowadot.
  • Trip preparation – is the trip necessary? Often, delaying a trip by a few hours can give snow removal crews time to get the roads back to normal winter driving conditions.
  • Check on road conditions: Visit http://511ia.org/ to discover all of the ways in which travel information is available via the web, social media, phone and your mobile device.  

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Iowa highway in the evening